By Elizabeth Enockson
Fleet Public Affairs Center Atlantic
VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (NNS) — Strike Fighter Squadron (VF) 31 “Tomcatters” at Naval Air Station Oceana hosted three media representatives from The History Channel, USA Today and CNN, Sept. 19 to 21, as part of a VIP program that allowed them a chance to fly in an F-14 before the plane is officially retired Sept. 22.
“It’s so the American public can actually see what a great airplane it is,” said Cmdr. Curt Seth, VF-31 executive officer. “We branched out to The History Channel, USA Today and CNN to allow people to have a personality they can relate to and see the aircraft and the air crew interact with them.”
Each representative attended the Naval Aviation Survival Training Program (NASTP) before taking to the air to learn the proper safety procedures during a flight.
When the members of the press arrived at VF-31, they each had different questions about the aircraft, but the representative of The History Channel, retired Navy Cmdr. Terry Dietz, had questions that were all about the people.
“I’m glad to be back here. The last year I was an instructor (in the Navy), it was in the F-14D model aircraft that VF-31 has,” Dietz said. “Working with The History Channel this story has led to me being on the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) watching the last catapults and traps for VF-31. Then getting a flight in a F-14 showing America what its all about.”
The day before Dietz’s flight, Tom Vandenbrook of USA Today took to the air with VF-31’s executive officer to write a story of his own.
“I flew with Vandenbrook yesterday,” Seth said. “It went very well. We did quite a bit. The weather was a little ‘iffy’ but we were able to get through without too much of a problem, and he seemed to enjoy himself. I guess we’ll find out just how much when his article comes out,” said Seth.
While each VIP was only in the air for one brief flight, the impression they make through their experience can have a lasting impact.
“I think that the VIPs that came shed a good light on the Navy and the military in general,” said Seth, “just by the exposure that they show the American public through their respective press networks.”
“It’s a great program and we should continue to press on with it, so the U.S. people can actually see the hard-working men and woman we have at our command and in the Navy.”
For more news from around the fleet, visit www.navy.mil.